On 14 January 2011, the Decree establishing the website was published in the Mexican Official Gazette. It was set to be launched on 1 March 2012, but the date was delayed until 1 June 2012. After some initial problems with the speed of information transfer, the website was upgraded and now operates normally.
One of the website’s main impacts on Mexican importers and exporters is the replacement of paper invoices traditionally filed with Mexican Customs, with an ‘Electronic Proof of Value’, or COV E, its acronym in Spanish. The COV E contains all the information relating to invoices, in particular the data related to the value of the goods prior to customs clearance.
The website can also be used to carry out certain international trade related filings or petitions electronically—such as certificates of origin, import permits and authorizations to import goods on a temporary basis, among many others. This is carried out by applying through the website and attaching the relevant documents. In addition, documents required for customs clearance can also be uploaded to the website.
The COV E and electronic filings must be submitted using the importer’s or exporter’s Advance Electronic Signature (FIEL—Spanish acronym). This is an identification number and password granted by the government to every taxpayer. However, for COV E purposes the customs broker’s FIEL may also be used. This is a recent change which will likely decrease the time needed for companies to manage import and export documentation.
Even though the website came into effect on 1 June 2012, some government agencies and/or filings are not yet operating under the new system and are being introduced gradually. The Ministry of Economy and the Ministry of Finance and Public Credit were the first agencies to work with the website. The following agencies are still waiting to link in: Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock, Rural Development, Fisheries and Food;Ministry of Health; Ministry of National Defense; and the Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources, among others.
The main arguments driving the website’s implementation are: less paper and storage costs; reduced customs clearance time; improved competitiveness and transparency. As a consequence, a number of other countries have already adopted a similar system.
Currently, the website only covers Mexican importers, exporters, customs brokers and government bodies. Nevertheless, foreign companies should be aware of its implementation, since the commercial invoice regime or other customs requirements may change in the future.